It’s that time of year again when every time you blink an eye it seems that 100 more people got married. Spring is in bloom, birds are chirping and everyone is getting hitched. New Orleans in all its wonder is one of the most magical, picaresque, and most of all fun places to have a wedding, and that’s just what we’re talking about this week on GoNOLA Radio to kick off the month of May.
There’s a lot of fuss over weddings, and the cake comes to the top of the list, right under the dress. New Orleans Food Goddess Lorin Gaudin talks to Doyle DeForest, the owner of Flour Power, a local confectionery that proves wedding cakes don’t necessarily have to be elegant, regal things made out of white cake and almond icing, unless, of course that’s your thing. DeForest describes some of the more unconventional flavors and groom’s cakes he’s created, like a three dimensional overflowing oil rig, elephant and Ferrari.
Mikko goes straight to the source for New Orleans weddings – a couple who have been there and lived to tell the story. That couple is Greg DiLeo and Christina Tiers DiLeo, a local attorney and publisher, respectively. Their wedding was classic New Orleans all the way, from the cake to the music. Listen to why they chose New Orleans as the setting for their wedding.
George Ingmire, host of WWOZ’s New Orleans All the Way Live, talks to classical musician Harry Hardin who plays the New Orleans wedding racket. He explains the difference between certain types of ceremonies and what it takes to arrange and play wedding music.
GoNOLA Radio is a free New Orleans podcast hosted by Sunpie Barnes, Lorin Gaudin, George Ingmire and Mikko about the food, music and culture of the Crescent City. Subscribe to GoNOLA Radio on iTunes or download to your mobile device on Stitcher. GoNOLA Radio features music by Cale Pellick.
Sunpie: Welcome to GoNOLA Radio.
My name is Sunpie Barnes and I will be your host of hosts as we explore New Orleans to learn about the city’s rich cultural heritage, food, and music. We bring you experts, the real deal experts who will talk with you about the people who make New Orleans such a wonderful place to live and visit.
It’s GoNOLA Radio.
People spend years sometimes their whole lives planning their fantasy wedding. In New Orleans, dreams you never even new you had can come true. Like most experiences in New Orleans, getting married is like nothing you’ve ever imagined. Getting hitched in New Orleans is always a unique celebration and the cake should have personality to match. New Orleans food Goddess Lorin Gaudin talks to the owners of Flour Power about their whimsical and wonderful wedding cakes.
Lorin: Hi. Lorin Gaudin talking about weddings in New Orleans. New Orleans is such an incredible place, destination for weddings. People come here they love the city. They love the view. They love the vibration, but most of all when you go to a wedding you got to have fabulous wedding cake. So I’m joined today by a fantastic baker named, Doyle DeForest of Flour Power Bakery. Hi Doyle, how you doing?
Doyle: Hello. How are you?
Lorin: I’m really well, thanks. I’m such a big fan of yours and your lovely wife Rhonda, when you had Flour Power Cafe, which I miss terribly to before we dive into cake face first, any chance of Flour Power coming back?
Doyle: Well, let’s just say it’s in the works.
Lorin: Excellent. I’m looking forward to that. You’ll have to keep us posted. So we’re talking wedding cakes in New Orleans and of course there are a lot of legendary places that one can buy and get their wedding cakes from and all of that stuff. And there are beautiful local bakers and people who are really crafty. Your cakes though seem to stand out in the crowd. I have a great fun story to share with you. Two chef buddies of mine, you did their wedding cake for them and of course it was the famous one that everybody loves, you know which one I’m talking about, the Strawberry Cream cheese Bavarian. And that cake is in itself a legend, it’s gorgeous, it’s moist, it’s sweet. It covers all the bases and it’s creamy. Well, they had that cake at their wedding and the photographers wife was in labor and he had to shoot their wedding and quickly dash and before he dashed the one thing he asked was to bring her a piece of the cake, of the wedding cake because it was so amazing, it was the best cake he had in his life ever and so he brought his wife, who was in labor your gorgeous cake. So tell us about this incredible cake, it does really get a lot of press.
Doyle: The cake is made of cream cheese. It’s very light and airy. I fold a lot of whipped cream into it. We use whole, local strawberries where we can. Then it’s a butter icing and it’s just a moist product like you said. I’ll tell you it’s just incredible. People go crazy over it.
Lorin: I think it’s because it’s that cream cheese and strawberries and of course there’s so much local love with our strawberries because they taste well, heavenly and they have a different flavor to them. It’s not that California strawberries aren’t pretty, but they have the whole in the center and ours don’t. So it’s a wonderful combination of creamy and tart and sweet and the fresh berries and it’s so beautiful. All of our cakes really kind of rock that sort of intensity and flavor and texture and so on. What are the most popular flavor for wedding cakes right now?
Doyle: It varies from week-to-week really. The traditional Almond cake is very popular. Anything with fresh fruits. The lemon-butter cream is really nice. Sometimes we’ll throw fresh fruit in that and give it that citrus-berry taste. It’s really nice during the summer time in the heat of New Orleans. It really varies week-to-week. Sometimes we’ll even do a Red Velvet off the wall.
Lorin: That sounds real amazing and I know to that you’re also very well known for a lot of your gum paste and fondant work. Just doing those extra special crazy things. So what the cakes look like today is a big deal because there’s this ode to tradition, there are some people looking for something very contemporary. I know you kind of criss-cross back and forth between all of that and do incredible and we’re looking through your cake book and there is some amazing things. Let’s start with the wedding cakes and designs that are popular at the moment and then we’re going to shift into groom cakes and kind of the whacky wild stuff that you get to do with that. So what is going on right now in wedding cakes from the icing and decorative perspective and I guess the look of them?
Doyle: A lot has changed. It’s almost like we’re reverting back to the modern style, classical decorations as far as the spackled look, completely flush, not separation, no separations whatsoever.
Lorin: When you say separations we’re talking specifically about cakes where you have the separations of the layers with some kind of little pillars or something like that?
Doyle: Pillars, columns, yeah anything like that and if we do separate them we’ll separate them with wooden dowels and then they’ll come back with fresh flowers so it looks like the cake is actually suspended on a bed of flowers which is incorporated into the whole venue itself so it all ties in together. The color scheme is really a major thing right now. We found that a lot of like Tiffany blue, a little softer, not really pastel but it seems they’re leaning more towards that these days and accenting, going heavier on the pastel colors and accenting on the white or the cream and it really brings out a different tone on the cake itself. Not really patterns as far as lace goes, but more of like a ruffled look or texture anything like that onto the cake itself.
Lorin: It’s amazing. I’m looking in the book and one of the pictures you were showing me looks like a spackled wall almost. As if someone has texturized the wall and when you look at it it’s really simple but elegant just as it is, but the bride’s have a tendency to take it one step further and they’re adding fresh flowers and things like that. It was just beautiful to look at. I mean I can’t get over the texture, it’s like stucco almost. So there’s a little rough quality and yet the softness and beauty of the cake itself. Also you’ve been showing me the ombre kind of icing color combination. For people who don’t know what ombre is can you tell them?
Doyle: Basically it’s a transition of either darker up top and going lighter at the bottom. Or dark at the bottom and transitioning lighter up top, but it’s a variation of the colors, but as it gets to the bottom of the cake it actually get’s to a richer more bolder color.
Lorin: It’s amazing. I’m looking at it and it’s like graduation of color. I’m looking at one in your book right now that is amazing. It’s stacked and it starts with a very pale, almost white with a hint of blue underneath and then goes all the way down to almost navy at the very base. It’s stunning.
Doyle: It’s amazing. It’s really grand and when you accent it with a fresh either a poppy or some sort of a hibiscus a beautiful full flower it really brings out the color even more on the cake itself.
Lorin: Incredible stuff. I remember a long time ago I looked in a book and you had done some incredible groom’s cakes and one in particular that stuck out was, I think it was a mouthpiece with some braces in it. And I remember a street car that was incredible. And I think it was a seafood boiling pot that you did. Are those kinds of grooms cakes and those kinds – even at weddings – are you seeing a lot of that and what kind of fun stuff are you doing?
Doyle: Wow. Just last week we put out a cake for, it was a three dimensional Ferrari, for 400 people and it was about 3 ft. long by 2 ft. wide and I had to transport it to Lafayette. So that was a feat within itself, but it came out amazing. I was very happy with the way that it traveled.
Lorin: So tell me again, give me an idea of some of these other groom cakes. Obviously I imagine that if you get people calling from LSU you get tiger stuff, you get two lane stuff, I’m sure you get all of the Universities, wolf pack from Loyola, etc. Anything that’s on the horizon that you’re doing that really puts a smile on your face that we would want to know about?
Doyle: I did a three dimensional elephant sitting down and he was about 3-1/2 ft. tall. And the couple had actually got engaged in India and they were going back to India on their honeymoon. So she had surprised him with a three dimensional elephant grooms cake which was pretty cool.
Lorin: That’s amazing.
Doyle: Yeah. We’ve done oil rigs, full sculptured oil rigs with oil coming out of the top of the cake for the groom. Of course, dogs and cars and pretty much anything that defies gravity is a challenge for me and I love a challenge. It’s just fantastic, but we’ve just seen the sculpture and the three dimensional cakes on the rise probably in the last year. Probably our numbers have doubled in the last year and the more that we do, the more reputation we become of being specialized in that field. So, it’s very positive.
Lorin: I think you’re cakes are magnificent. Not just to look at and the artistry which I think is outstanding, but to eat they’re incredible and the cake menu well it’s completely mouth watering and I know if people are listening I don’t want, their stomachs will start rumbling. Anything from wedding cake to chocolate truffles to chocolate mocha hazelnut crunch, oh my goodness, lemon butter cream and the best part of the cake menu is that you can go on to the website and you can drool all over that and the website is: www.flourpowernola.com. Or you can even call Doyle and Rhonda, their phone number is, 504–276-9095. Thank you so much Doyle Deforest, Flour Power’s the Bakery and hopefully soon that cafe and maybe some other fun places around town where we might be able to get your cake. Thank you so much.
Doyle: Well thank you for having me.
Sunpie: There’s no better people to talk to about getting married in New Orleans than the ones who’ve already done it. That’s why Mikko is hear to talk to locals Greg and Christina DiLeo about how a light up engagement ring from a Mardi Gras parade led to a wedding at the Ritz.
Mikko: I love marriage. I love it so much that I keep doing it over and over again. And I’ve been married a few times here in New Orleans and I’m with a couple that actually got married a couple of years ago. They’re very dear friends of mine. They live in the coolest house you can imagine on Beaux St. John. I’m with attorney Greg DiLeo and his wife, publisher Christina Tiers DiLeo. Welcome to the show.
Greg: Thank you, it’s great to be here.
Christina: Thank you.
Mikko: We’re going to talk about weddings today and it’s not really a guy thing to talk about. Christina, but I’m going to tell you, Greg threw you a pretty good wedding didn’t he?
Christina: Absolutely. He did it right.
Mikko: Yeah. You guys got married here in New Orleans. You got married at the Ritz. You had an engagement party which is kind of a pre-wedding party. In New Orleans you can have a party every night of the week before the wedding, but this one was great because it was in the French Quarter. I remember it was one of those great sultry nights, you know with the Magnolias and the Banana trees. I just wanted to find out from you guys what was special about your wedding here? Why did you choose to have your wedding here in the Crescent City?
Greg: Well for Christina and I the main reason why we wanted to have it here was because there were a lot of choices to where you could have it, but this was one place that we knew that everyone would be able to come, would want to come, and would enjoy themselves if they came even after they did the things that had to do with our wedding. Particularly where we were trying to do somethings in the French Quarter, the people that stayed were able to have fun, you’re almost using us for an excuse.
Mikko: It’s almost like here’s an invitation to my wedding and here’s the cover charge. Almost to that point. Not that you guys did that, but New Orleans has so much to offer. It seems that your wedding, if you had to go somewhere else, now I’m not going put down any cities, Tulsa is a fine town, but if you have a wedding in New Orleans there is a reason to come here. Is that what you’re talking about?
Greg: Oh absolutely. A lot of my friends are here, but a lot of Christiana’s friends were out of town and so it had to be a place that was easy to get to but also fun to be and just New Orleans fit that bill.
Mikko: One thing that I was impressed with at your wedding, as one of your guests, I remember specifically crashing, I don’t remember the invitation, but –
Greg: No, you were invited.
Mikko: Okay. Thank you, was –
Greg: We made you pay, but you were invited.
Mikko: It was nominal.
Greg: If you remember at the engagement party, which you also came to, it was, we kind of did it backwards. We had the engagement party really was almost the equivalent of a pre-reception. The wedding itself was somewhat small. The wedding was just our closest friends and family. But the engagement party that was all of our friends and that was the big bash, the big blow out and that was before, I think two-weeks or so –
Greg: Two-weeks before we got married and so we had a lot of people come in for both events too.
Mikko: And Greg what’s great about that is New Orleans is a real family town. You’re a New Orleans guy. You’re going to have a lot of family coming. And Christina one thing that I was going to say that I was impressed with, you had these famous musicians, Ronie Cool played at your party and what happened afterwards, I’m trying to remember after the party you had –
Greg: We had Cranston Clements playing guitar at our reception party, at our anniversary, I’m sorry at our, we had Cranston Clements playing at our engagement party just sitting there on a stool playing an electric guitar and it was just fabulous and you know New Orleans is one of these places when it comes to artists and musicians it’s almost an embarrassment of riches. There are so many people who have talent that could in any other city probably commend an exorbitant, exorbitant price, but here in New Orleans you get them for Union rates. It’s great.
Mikko: I remember Jeremy Davenport.
Christina: Yeah. After we were married after the service and reception we then everyone went because in New Orleans you don’t really stop with the festivities and so we went down to the Ritz regular bar and Jeremy Davenport was playing and all our guests went down there and stayed up. In fact, we retired before they did.
Greg: Which is the perfect wedding.
Mikko: Tell me about the cake. The cake was the –
Greg: Ah, the cake.
Mikko: It was the most exotic –
Greg: Ah, the cake.
Mikko: – wedding cake and it tasted good by the way.
Greg: That was Christiana’s baby, I’ll let her explain that.
Christina: Yeah, Mikko, I went through like most brides I got all these wedding magazines and just went through and tore out my dress and what kind of cake I wanted and what I wanted to look like in my flowers. You know my brides maids all these things that I wanted, my wish list and I went to the Ritz and I met with the chef and gave him my cake, a picture of my cake and he made the exact cake, exact cake of the photo that I gave him and on top of that the layers were different, one was amaretto cream, one was strawberry, he did like several layers, it was fantastic.
Mikko: I never thought I would have a happy memory of a wedding cake. I really don’t like wedding cakes but it was great.
Greg: I remember that cake, I do. I mean I think for brides it’s, I want a cake that looks like this. For the groom it’s is it good.
Mikko: Can I eat it.
Greg: And can I eat it and I was not disappointed.
Mikko: First of all thank you for talking about your wedding. I’m just happy. I think I might go get married again after just talking to you two today.
Greg: We’re taken you can’t get married to us.
Mikko: Well, thanks for the warning. Thank you so much kids. I appreciate you being here and stay married.
Greg: Oh wait. Before you go you know what today is? Today is our anniversary of the day that we got engaged.
Mikko: Wow. Are you kidding me?
Greg: No. We –
Christina: Can I just tell the story really briefly?
Mikko: Go ahead.
Christina: We went to Boston for Easter weekend to see our daughter and we were there and Greg proposed but he didn’t want to have the wrong ring and so he, I got engaged with a ring from Muses that they toss off you know the one that lights up –
Mikko: That the parade uses.
Greg: It was the huge, fake diamond that when you turn it on, it lights up and kind of turns on.
Mikko: In New Orleans we throw these geegaws from the parade. So you caught this bauble from a parade, Mardis Gras and this is the engagement ring your husband gave you?
Mikko: No wonder he put you in the Ritz to make up for the ring.
Christina: No. It was perfect because then that next morning we got up and went to the, they have a great diamond district in Boston and we went and I got to pick out my own diamond and they set it and when we went to lunch and we came back and picked it up.
Greg: That’s right and she’s still making the payments. No, no, no.
Mikko: So you’re ring is initiated in New Orleans, your romance initiated in New Orleans, and your marriage was confirmed in New Orleans.
Greg: Consummated you might say.
Mikko: Well, this is a family show Greg. Cue the music.
Sunpie: Your wedding music is something you and your guests will always remember, no pressure. Classically trained musician Harry Hardin talks to George Ingmire about the best places in New Orleans to host and play weddings and one of the strangest song requests he’s ever received.
George: Hi. I’m here with Harry Hardin who happens to be a musician in the New Orleans area he also plays at weddings. Something that we’re talking about on this weeks GoNOLA Radio podcast. I want to welcome you to GoNOLA.
George: Now you actually are from the area around here and you went to [Noca]. I’m curious about how Noca influenced your playing.
Harry: I got to learn from some fantastic musicians. In the classical program I studied with Steven [Dankner] who’s a local composer and an amazing theorist, great guy too. Took some Jazz classes with Clyde Curr, Jr., who’s fantastic trumpeter unfortunately Clyde Curr and our Chorale teacher, some of the teachers aren’t here anymore. Certainly passed along their talents to a lot of good people.
George: Now how did you get into playing at weddings?
Harry: When I was at Loyola some of the, I was hired to play weddings here and there just as a violinist. We get lots of, most of the violinists in town who are classically trained usually, whether it be whatever their normal gig is, we usually, many of us fill in the open dates with wedding gigs just because they tend to be good paying gigs and it’s nice to be part of somebody’s wedding.
George: What else do you do besides weddings?
Harry: I teach. I have, at any given week I have 30 to 40 students violin lessons and guitar lessons. I play in three or four different local bands regularly. And I do private party gigs whatever. I did a recording session yesterday. I feel very lucky to have lots of work as a violinist.
George: What other bands are you in actually?
Harry: Okay, I play with the Rambling Letters which is a Blue Grass/Gospel band with some really talented guys. I also play with the Living Roomers which is [Camille Budwin’s] band with David [Douset]. I play with the Tanglers Blue Grass band. I play with Dave Jordan and the Neighborhood Improvement Association which is a great, Dave Jordan’s the longtime front man at Juice and this is sort of his little side project which is more Americana Rock, I guess. I do a lot of, I love Blue Grass, love Blue Grass and I play a couple of different traditional Jazz Trios, but that’s more for private party stuff. I love going to hear some of the other local fiddle players that do strictly the traditional Jazz like Matt [Roady] is one of my favorite violin players in town. Rick [Pearlesce] and Mike Harvey.
George: Curious about your approach to different ceremonies because I know you play both classic weddings but there is also Jewish weddings where the musical repertoire is a little different.
Harry: Sure. If you’re talking about religious ceremonies, it helps to have already done a few of them or it helps to be versed in the different music. Like for example in a Catholic wedding, a lot of the Catholic churches are very strict about what you play. You need to play classical and sacred music. Jewish weddings not so much. They usually in my experience the Jewish ceremonies we have a little more leeway as far as what we can play. There’s a lot of traditional Jewish music and Israeli music that is really beautiful, but it’s been my experience that a lot of these Jewish ceremonies we incorporate more modern stuff. Depending on the likes and dislikes of the bride. I tend to, when I speak to somebody about their wedding, I tend to just listen for awhile and see what they are sort of envisioning and then a lot of people, some people will come to me and they will have an idea of exactly what type of instrumentation they would like to use and other people have no idea what sort of instrumentation they’d like to use but they know what songs they’d like to include. So I sort of help them fill in the blanks.
Then other times I talk to people who know exactly what they want. They want a string quartet and a trumpet player and an organist and a vocalist and they send me their song list and it’s a, clients like that it makes my job a little easier, but any given bride or groom or mother of the bride that I speak with a lot of times they do have some sort of idea of a direction they want to go and I just sort of help them and give them ideas and suggestions and sort of I try to make them feel more comfortable if they’re not real sure of what kind of music or what style or a lot of times, I mean I have people who just hum songs to me over the phone. They’re like I don’t know what this is but you know could you help me out figure out what the song is. Sometimes we play the same ten songs, but I certainly encourage people to try and make their ceremony a little more unique. Every wedding is a little different. Some are more elaborate. Some are more simple. Some people have huge budgets to work with other people don’t. Depending on what they’re looking for it’s nice to put it together. Depending on the music, instrumentation, and any other specifications they might have.
George: What’s the strangest musical request you’ve ever had?
Harry: That’s a tough one. I get a lot of unusual requests. I’m usually open to attempt anything as long as I can find sheet music for it or I have the time to arrange it. I’ll give you an example, in this particular situation they were talking to me a week before the wedding and they wanted a particular instrumentation and a very specific list of songs. And it was, I had to scramble to sort, I mean I was up all night long writing out arrangements. They wanted, it was an unusual request, they wanted horns, which in New Orleans you wouldn’t think that would be a problem but I was like oh, we’ll get a brass band but a lot of the brass bands they don’t necessarily take requests they pretty much stick to what they play. This particular client wanted a rock song called Funny Little Frog, which there is no sheet music available for so it had to be an arrangement done by ear. They wanted a couple of show tunes which could find arrangements for but not for three horn players with no accompaniment or anything like that. It seems that a lot of these weddings turn me on to new and more non-traditional music. I got a request for a song called M79 or something by Vampire Weekend and that was a new one for me and it was a cool little song. I added it to my library and I like it now.
George: That sounds like something I need to look up. I sounds like a chemical formula more than it does a song, but all right, now New Orleans is a place for weddings. What’s your take on it? I think it’s a beautiful place for weddings and no matter where you’re from you might consider coming to New Orleans to have your wedding.
Harry: Yeah, yeah, I agree. There is so many wonderful places to get married here that work for all budgets. We have some beautiful parks, Audubon and City Park is a place that I play for weddings all the time. There’s so many wonderful plantations in and around New Orleans. You know down off Esplanade Avenue there’s a bunch of old historic houses that we play at every so often. The [Dega] House is beautiful. The [Banashi] House is great. Jackson Square, you can get married in Jackson Square aside from all these old wonderful churches and I mean it’s difficult, as long as you’re starting well enough in advance I imagine it’s got to be hard not to find a really great place to get married for all sorts of different budgets.
George: Now where can people find you on line if they were coming into town or they’re actually in town and want to have you as their arranger.
Harry: The website is www.weddingmusicneworleans.com you can also find us under www.neworleansfinestmusicians.
George: Thank you so much Harry.
Harry: Thank you.
Sunpie: GoNOLA Radio is a production of New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation in conjunction with FTSC Interactive. Music by Cale Pellick. My name is Sunpie. Tune in next week by subscribing to GoNOLA Radio on iTunes or GoNOLA.com.